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Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

These Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes will be the hit of Thanksgiving and everyone’s new favorite fall dessert! They combine both lusciously creamy, warmly spiced pumpkin cheesecake with tantalizingly sweet and crunchy brown sugar pecan praline topping, all crowned with pillowy whipped cream. These mini pumpkin cheesecakes are also fabulous because they are easier to make than traditional cheesecake (no water bath or cracking), feed a crowd (they make 24), are fun to serve (and eat!) and they are make ahead friendly which eliminates all of that last-minute stress/hassle. You can even add the adorable whipped cream topping ahead of time with my trick for stabilized whipped cream. In this Min Pumpkin Cheesecake post, I’ve included step by step photos, tips and tricks and everything you need to know to make these Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes the hit of the season, even if you’ve never made cheesecake before!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 44 minutes
Servings 24 pumpkin cheesecakes

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1/2 cup (8 TBS) unsalted butter
  • 14 full sheets graham crackers finely crushed (1 3/4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

Cheesecake

  • 3 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp EACH ground cloves, ground nutmeg, ground ginger

Praline Topping

  • 2 cups raw, unsalted pecans finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (may sub light)
  • 2 tablespoon dark corn syrup (may sub light)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar

Stabilized Whipped Cream (optional)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Crust

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two REGULAR SIZE muffin tins with cupcake liners and spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  • Melt butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Add finely ground graham crackers and sugar and stir until well combined. Evenly divide mixture between cupcake liners, about 1 1/2 tablespoon each. Firmly press the crumbs down on the bottom. Bake at 325 degrees F for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool while you make the praline topping and cheesecake filling.

Pecan Praline Topping

  • Add pecans, brown sugar and salt to a bowl and stir until evenly combined. Add corn syrup and vanilla and mix until evenly combined; set aside. (You’ll top the praline with the granulated sugar later.)

Cheesecake filling

  • Add cream cheese and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (may use hand electric mixer) and beat on medium speed 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
  • With mixer still running, add the eggs one at a time, then the egg yolk, mixing just until the yellow disappears after each egg.
  • Add the sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla and mix until well incorporated.
  • Add the pumpkin puree cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger and mix just until combined.

Bake

  • Evenly distribute the filling between the 24 cupcake liners, about ¼ cup. Don’t fill the liners all the way up to the top (leave ¼-½-inch) because they will puff when baked. You may have a little extra cheesecake filling.
  • Bake cheesecakes in preheated oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove muffin tins from the oven and sprinkle praline topping evenly over each cheesecake, gently patting it down with your hands. Evenly divide and sprinkle praline with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. (If your cheesecakes have puffed up too much to add the topping, wait a couple minutes and they will deflate.)
  • Return muffin tins to the oven and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until nearly set (no longer very jiggly in the middle).

Cool

  • Remove muffin tins from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack at room temperature for 90 minutes (no less!), then cover and transfer to refrigerator and chill at least 3 hours (best if 24).
  • You can pipe the stabilized whipped cream onto the room temperature cheesecakes before you pop them into the fridge or any time after that. The beauty of stabilized whipped cream is it will hold its shape indefinitely. If using regular whipped cream, top just before serving

Stabilized Whipped Cream

  • Add unflavored gelatin to a microwave safe bowl then pour the cold water over top; let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer the gelatin mixture to the microwave and microwave for 10 seconds. Stir the mixture, then set aside to cool.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Whip the mixture just until it forms soft peaks.
  • Turn the mixer to low and slowly pour in the gelatin mixture. Mix until well combined then increase the speed to medium and continue mixing until stiff peaks form. Pipe onto the mini cheesecakes.

Video

Notes

*Don't miss the "how to make video" at the top of the post (under the first photo)

Make ahead & Storage

  • These mini pumpkin cheesecakes are very best if allowed to chill at least 24 hours, making them the perfect make ahead dessert.  I would say they are at their prime 24-48 hours after making, but are still scrumptious if you make them even farther ahead of time; they are good for up to 7 days.   Let them sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.
  • I like to use a cake container to cover the pumpkin cheesecakes so I can pipe on the whipped cream and cover them without smooshing them.  If you don’t have a cake container, you can use a large inverted bowl or tent with foil. 

TIPS and tricks

  • Use the correct pan size.  This recipe is for REGULAR muffin size/cupcake size tins – not mini muffin tins. 
  • Corn syrup: is commonly used in candy making and is the glue that holds pecans topping together.  You may substitute with pure maple syrup but it will affect the flavor.
  • Unflavored gelatin: is a common baking ingredient and can be found next to the packages of Jell-O and pudding at your grocery store. It is what makes this “stabilized” whipped cream and not just whipped cream.
  • Gluten free: To make a gluten free crust, simply use your favorite gluten free cookie such as gluten-free graham crackers.
  • Use fine crumbs. The finer the crumbs, the more cohesive the crust and less crumbly it will be when baked.
  • Use soft cream cheese.  The cream cheese should be soft enough that it can easily beat into a creamy consistency.  If it is not soft enough, then it will yield lumpy cheesecake and will leave white specks in the pumpkin puree (see three methods to soften cream cheese below).
  • To quicklybring eggs to room temperature: Fill a bowl with warm water (not hot) and add eggs and let sit 10-20 minutes.
  • Don’t overbeat eggs.Once you add the eggs, beat as LITTLE as possible, beating just until combined after each egg addition.  Overbeating eggs can lead to the cheesecake cracking and not as creamy cheesecake.
  • Use the stabilized whipped cream. If you want to prep the Mini Cheesecakes 100% in advance, stabilized whipped cream is the way to go. You can pipe on the whipped cream days ahead of time them just pull out your gorgeous pumpkin cheesecakes when you're ready to serve.
  • Chill bowl and beaters. It’s best to chill your bowl and beaters for about 15 minutes before making the whipped cream.  It’s not essential, but chilling helps your whipped cream thicken more quickly and increases the volume.
  • Don’t overwhip whipped cream. Stop mixing as soon as stiff peaks form because over-whipped cream becomes grainy.  If you’ve accidently reached the grainy stage, you can try and salvage the whipped creamy by adding a few tablespoons of fresh cream and gently mixing it in by hand using a wire whisk. If the whipped cream is separated, then unfortunately it can’t be fixed.

how to freeze

  • Line chilled cheesecakes in their cupcake liners on a baking sheet or tray without touching.
  • Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze until solid (about 1 hour); this prevents the cheesecakes from freezing together later when stored.  Alternatively, you can skip this step and freeze cheesecakes individually in their own plastic bags.
  • Transfer mini pumpkin cheesecakes to a freezer safe airtight container; place parchment paper in between each row if stacking.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • When ready to eat, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.